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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    One for the books

    One for the books

    While watching an Arizona softball game on TV with her father as a young girl, Caitlin Lowe saw her future.

    Lowe recalls being in awe as former UA center fielder Alison McCutcheon displayed a dizzying array of talents.

    “”That was the only game I ever saw her play but she went, I think it was like 3-for-4,”” Lowe said. “”She had a home run, and she had stolen bases, she slapped, she kinda did everything. And that’s when I really knew that I wanted to be the fast person, and I wanted to be able to hit for power and I wanted to be able to do it all like she did.””

    Ten years later, she’s doing just that. The senior center fielder is one steal away from breaking McCutcheon’s career stolen base record of 148.

    After swiping her 148th career base Sunday, Lowe said it was an honor just to be tied with her idol.

    With nine regular-season games remaining, and the postseason after that, it is almost a foregone conclusion that Lowe’s name will soon be alone in the record book.

    “”It’s not surprising,”” said UA head coach Mike Candrea. “”When she came here, we felt that she would walk out of here setting the mark in that category. It’s nice to see and well-deserved, and well-earned more than anything.””

    Candrea said that when he started recruiting Lowe out of Tustin, Calif., he knew right away that she would be a great player.

    “”We saw at an early age that she was pretty special,”” he said. “”Once in a while you recruit and you see kids and you can’t miss on them, you don’t have to project very far.

    “”With her, you knew damn well you had a kid that was going to come in and make an impact, and she has.””

    Lowe has been an All-American every year since stepping on campus in 2004 and helped lead the Wildcats to a national championship last season.

    And while the team-first Lowe isn’t big on personal accomplishments, her teammates recognize the significance of her breaking the stolen base record in the coming weeks.

    “”I’m really excited for her,”” said catcher Callista Balko. “”Caitlin totally deserves this, and she’s worked so hard. She’s such a talented person and so different from everyone else because she can do everything: She’s got speed, she’s got pop in her bat.

    “”I think this is well-deserved, and we’ll be witnessing history.””

    McCutcheon, who lives in Tucson with her husband, Ian, and their two young children, said she’s glad to see her record fall to a player she said will go down as one of the all-time greats in Arizona softball history.

    “”I’m really, really happy because it means that the sport of softball is still growing and the girls are becoming stronger,”” McCutcheon said.

    “”There’s still quite a bit of the season left, so she might really surpass the record by quite a bit. I hope she keeps stealing bases like I know she can.””

    And although Lowe is dominant on the basepaths – she has only been thrown out six times in her career and is 41-for-41 on stolen base attempts this season – she is certainly not a one-trick pony.

    Her career batting average is .456, second on the UA’s all-time list, trailing only McCutcheon’s .466 mark.

    Lowe already ranks fourth all-time at Arizona with 10 career triples and sixth with 324 career hits.

    But perhaps the best part of her game is seen when she doesn’t have a bat in her hands.

    Her defense in center field has been practically flawless, as she’s yet to make an error in 167 career chances.

    She is also responsible for a collection of highlight-reel catches thanks to a seeming disregard for her health and safety while in the field.

    And yet despite many great catches from which to choose, the one that her teammates remembers is one that turned out to be for naught, a diving catch through a wall against Texas in February.

    “”She had like a cracked rib and something was wrong with her back, but she ran through the fence to catch a home run ball,”” said shortstop Kristie Fox, Lowe’s roommate. “”They ended up calling it a home run anyway, but to see her sacrifice her body when she’s already hurt for the good of the team really showed the kind of person she is. She’s all about the team.””

    Added Balko: “”It was seriously the most amazing catch in center field I’ve ever seen. She broke through the fence, and I had no doubt the ball was gone, and she just came up and totally surprised us.

    “”The umpires kind of took it away from her, but that’s still the number one play that’s just stuck in my head.””

    Speed is the defining aspect of Lowe’s game. Soon the stolen base record will be hers alone, fitting since teammates describe her as an “”instant double,”” saying that if she gets to first base she will be on second soon after.

    And with her endless list of accomplishments, Lowe will almost certainly finish her career as one of the offensive legends of Arizona softball, right up there with McCutcheon, former shortstop Laura Espinoza and former outfielder Lauren Bauer.

    But it isn’t a single stolen base or great play in center field that Candrea will remember about Lowe.

    “”To me it’s the everyday approach,”” Candrea said. “”I just love to see a player that practices at the same pace and the same level as they play, and that’s a hard thing to get players to understand.

    “”Caitlin’s one of those players that you don’t know if she’s practicing or if she’s playing. It’s the same mentality, same focus and same intensity,”” he added. “”My enjoyment comes from watching her on a day-to-day basis. She’s had a lot of great catches and some great moments at the plate, but to be able to see someone bring that to the ballpark every day is probably the most special thing.

    “”She’ll be remembered for a long time here and will go down as one of the best that’s ever played in an Arizona uniform.””

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